Should I Use Kettlebells or Dumbbells?

In just about any gym, particularly big ones like Workout Anytime, you’ll likely encounter two kinds of free weights: good ol’ dumbbells and the kettlebells.

Both have their advantages, but one question often persists: Which one is better than the other when it comes to results? Let’s take a look.

For Dynamic Movements: Kettlebells

For explosive physical movements, kettlebells are king. If you’re doing plyo improvements, powerlifting or competing in a sport that requires explosiveness (like CrossFit games), kettlebells lead to greater gains. Use kettlebells for exercises that use several major muscle groups and involve big movements.

The kettlebell swing is great for cardio and activates your entire posterior chain of muscles—your hamstrings, glutes and back muscles.

For Basic Movements: Dumbbells

Dumbbells are great for basic movements and you can use it for chest press, shoulder press, squats, and rows. You’re not swinging the weight around making the moves straightforward.

For Mixing up Workouts: Kettlebells

If you’re tired of doing burpees, switch it up by using kettlebells during an HIIT workout. It’s not hard to integrate kettlebells into a workout, you can just do 30 seconds of all-out effort swings to cap things off.

For Newbies: Dumbbells

If you’re new to weight training, stick with dumbbells unless you’ve specifically worked with a personal trainer who has instructed and trained you to use kettlebells. Dumbbells is a great beginner equipment as it prevents injury and putting too much stress on the muscles and joints.

For Improving Grip Strength: Kettlebells

A kettlebell’s horn handle is often thicker than a dumbbell, making it ideal for increasing grip strength and prepares you for challenging exercises like pull-ups.

For General Fitness: Dumbbells

Compared to dynamic moves using kettlebells, squats and other basic weightlifting exercises using dumbbells lead to greater improvements in strength if done consistently. If your goal is general fitness, there’s nothing wrong with using dumbbells at all.

For Extra Challenge: Kettlebells

What kettlebells do is basically take the center of gravity about 8 inches away from your hand. whereas Dumbbells on the other hand provide stability. Moves like a bottoms-up kettlebell press give you an extra challenge because you’re working to lift the weight and at the same time stabilize it—so the bell doesn’t hit your arm. It’s worth mentioning that while it gives you an added challenge it can be dangerous if you’re fairly new to exercising.

For Progressing in Weight: Dumbbells

Believe it or not, you can make your workouts more challenging using a dumbbell. In fact, experts recommend to practice explosive moves first with dumbbells before you level up with a kettlebell.  Additionally, kettlebells usually don’t come in small sizes like dumbbells so it might be difficult to find a “perfect fit.” Dumbbells on the other hand come in a wide range of weights and sizes in gyms, at five-pound increments, making them ideal for your workout progression.

For Leg Exercises: Kettlebells

Whether you want to make your arms bigger or to achieve full body power, you need to work on your legs too. And in this case, kettlebells are the winner. Using kettlebells is the best way to do your front squats and Romanian deadlifts.

For Isolation Exercises: Dumbbells

Exercises like biceps curls target specific areas, and these are necessary if your goals are aesthetic. Dumbbells allow you to focus on your target muscle groups only.

The Verdict

To be honest, both dumbbells and kettlebells have their own advantages and we cannot say one is greater than the other in all aspects. You go with dumbbells if you’re a newbie, you want to build muscle and sculpt your body. On the other hand, you should use kettlebells if your goal is to improve your athleticism, build more power and strength, and want more fun and excitement in your workouts.

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